Search for El Fuego eruption survivors focuses on mountain hamlets

Sergio Conner
June 7, 2018

According to Hadashot TV news, a team of Israeli doctors will fly out to the disaster zone on Thursday.

New footage captured by a Guatemala police service drone shows an area around the country's Volcano of Fire now covered by a massive layer of ash and rubble.

In the city of Escuintla, near the summit, panicked locals rushed to their cars to escape, causing chaotic traffic.

Before evacuations were ordered, authorities said the death toll had risen to at least 72, three higher than on Monday.

Asked about that possibility, the director of Guatemala's disaster agency, Sergio Cabanas, said: "Not until the search efforts are over, and it would be left up to the people".

The eruption on Sunday sent columns of ash and smoke 6.2 miles (10 km) into the sky, dusting several regions with ash.

Recovery work was going slowly, officials said, given the nature of the terrain and the way the volcano released large amounts of boiling mud, rock and ash down the mountain.

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"Lavas can be deadly and unsafe, but they usually move at a more predictable rate and don't spread out as quickly across the land, so it can usually be escaped from before people lose their life", Rubin said.

"You can't say all pyroclastic flows are always more risky than all lava flows, but you can generally say that pyroclastic flows are more unsafe than lavas overall", said Ken Rubin, chair of the Department of Geology and Geophysics and the University of Hawaii.

"We don't rule out the possibility of some person alive, but the condition in which the homes are makes that possibility pretty unlikely", Sanchez said, adding that some of the ash was still at temperatures between 400 C and 700 C.

The 3,763-metre volcano erupted early on Sunday, spewing out towering plumes of ash and a hail of fiery rock fragments with scalding mud.

Those living nearby were taking no chances after authorities gave them little time to evacuate before a deadly eruption over the weekend.

Volcan de Fuego, or Volcano of Fire, blows outs a thick cloud of ash, as seen from Alotenango, Guatemala, June 3, 2018. It is known technically as pyroclastic flow and is more risky than lava because it travels much faster.

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